Metasearch site Skyscanner has released the final phase of its extended forecast of what travel will be like in 2024. This last installment focuses on space travel, and how the newest – and perhaps last – frontier of travel will affect the industry over the next decade.
Read more about the first installments here
Hotel room of the future
The future is nearly here in hotels, with the latest iOS updates and hotel technoogy upgrades suggesting a seamless hotel experience in the very near future. Looking even further into the future, Skyscanner’s Director of Hotels Nik Gupta:
In 10 years’ time, advances in digital technology will mean that travelers will have no need to encounter a single human being from the time that they enter their chosen hotel to the time that they check out of their room,” he says.
The fight back against peer-to-peer travel will see hotels empower their guests with incredible levels of hyper-personalization through their mobile devices to provide the unique experiences they want.
This last point is interesting, as it suggests an impending nuclear option when it comes to hotels competing with P2P rental outfits such as Airbnb. In order to differentiate, and provide a personalized experience that sets hotels apart from others, here are some things hotel guests may see in the next 10 years:
Hotel software linked to social profiles to ensure complete customization of room settings. Personalized selection of menus, restaurant suggestions and activities to each guest. Organic LEDs (OLEDs) will make any surface into a video surface, heralding a new age of interactive hotel room walls. High-frequency sounds and chromatherapy deployed in bathrooms will literally shake dirt off bodies with sound waves while soothing various pain points with color technology. In-room 3D printers will offer custom printed amenities on-demand.
As the report points out, some hotels are already doing this. The Peninsula Hong Kong uses tablet technology to control the room’s temperature, blinds, and lights, while also booking reservations and planning day trips. Hilton’s Conrad has a Concierge App that facilitates selections such as preferred bath amenities and choosing breakfast items. At the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a Stay Well room uses in-pillow sensors to enhance sleep and include Vitamin C0-infused shower water.
Of course, as home automation and smart technologies make their way into homes (and decrease in price), these sorts of differentiators will be less forceful. Airbnb listings could soon have the same amenities, as savvy property owners update homes to reflect current trends. In addition, there are many third party apps that facilitate personalized recommendations while traveling, so it is imperative that hotels excel at these interfaces and products.
Space – and the deep sea – are the final frontiers
Underwater resorts are already seeing success – such as the Underwater Suites in Dubai – and will start to see prices drop as more resort developers explore new ways to bring travelers underwater.
Dubai is also home to another world’s first – rather than just a suite that partially fronts an underwater bay, the entire hotel will be built to drop down under a mile into the ocean. This means that the entire experience of the Water Discus Hotel, not just one part of a suite, will be underwater. Should this concept prove successful on a large-scale, consider the deep sea exploration a new “must have” bucket list item.
Beyond a deep sea stay, space is the soaring final frontier that will see increased interest as the price drops significantly in the next ten years. While an initial Virgin Galactic flight can cost up to $250k, this price will drop drastically as the costs of technology and operations drop with experience.
Skyscanner CEO Gareth Williams:
Without question, space tourism will grow and get cheaper. But what is affordable for the general public is a very arbitrary question given we’re a planet of 7 billion people.
I suspect we’ll see the habitation of Mars and the ambitions of Mars One or Elon Musk’s vision coming to fruition before space travel becomes common enough and cheap enough to be affordable for the majority.
The impact of space-going technologies on everyday aviation could also be significant, with the same orbit-hugging spaceships being deployed for intercontinental air travel. This could cut travel times significantly, increase productivity and boosting demand for air travel. These technologies may also impact the ability of the industry to adapt to green technologies, and increase the number of miles traveled per unit of fuel.
No longer “the first” to see something – it’s now “the last”
In a turnaround that should concern anyone in travel reliant on the income from the industry, the new currency will be no longer “I was first” but “I was last.” This means that extinctions and destruction of habitat will lead to an increased appetite for travel to areas at risk of disappearing in order to be one of the last to experience the area.
Rather than preserving these endangered areas, the very act of sharing and increasing awareness about the endangerment can destroy the habitat.
The report calls this “Forbidden Zone” travel, says Skyscanner’s Filip Filpov:
Travelers from both the developed and the emerging worlds will be looking for the thrill of the new – for a chance to explore countries in Africa, Asia and Middle East that their friends have never visited.
There will be a flood of Chinese tourists to the classic destinations such as Paris, Rome and New York in the 2020s,” says Daniel Burrus.
Many people will turn away from these classic places because they are so crowded and use their e-agent devices to seek out hidden jewels that the mass market doesn’t yet know about.
This rush to explore extinction areas comes specifically from the developed world, and will be a serious challenge for the travel industry to successfully manage in the coming decade. By encouraging responsible tourism, the industry can facilitate conservation due to the influx of tourism dollars. Without those dollars, there are fewer resources available to prevent poachers and ecosystem destroyers from operating freely.
Overall, the travel industry is in for an epic decade of enormous changes that will redefine approaches to travel as more and more humans are moving about the planet.
Explore the full report here.